Liberty fall to undefeated Atlanta Dream

Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer talks with Cappie Liberty head coach Bill Laimbeer talks with Cappie Pondexter in the fourth quarter against the Indiana Fever during a WNBA basketball game at Prudential Center. (June 6, 2013) Photo Credit: Jason DeCrow

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ATLANTA - After making two straight trips to the WNBA Finals, the Atlanta Dream lost in the first round of the playoffs last season.

The Dream have opened the 2013 season as if determined to make up for last year's disappointing finish.

Angel McCoughtry had 15 points and a career high-tying 10 assists, and the Dream (4-0) took control with 12 consecutive points in the third quarter to beat the Liberty 75-56 on Friday night.

Sancho Lyttle scored 18 points to lead the Dream, who are off to their best start since winning their first six games in 2010.

"I think we have a great chemistry," McCoughtry said. "We've been through a lot, especially last year. It made us a lot stronger." Kara Braxton led the Liberty (2-2) with 14 points and was the team's only scorer in double figures.

Liberty forward Essence Carson was carried off the floor after hurting her left knee with 3:56 remaining in the first half. Carson was driving on a fast-break attempt when her leg appeared to give way as she attempted to make a cut near the basket.

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Carson did not return to the game.

"It didn't look positive, but I'm not a doctor so we'll wait and see what the doctors have to say," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said.

Carson, who finished with four points, shared the team lead with her average of 17.7 points in the first three games.

Alex Montgomery had six points and 12 rebounds for the Liberty, which had 19 turnovers.

"It was the same dilemma we've had for the first few games, turnovers and giving the other team second shots," Laimbeer said. "It came back to haunt us again. We can't win consistently doing that and it caught up to us tonight." McCoughtry had six of Atlanta's 14 steals, Lyttle shot 8 for 10 from the field and Erika de Souza added 13 points for the Dream.

"I thought again we came out in the beginning with a game plan of really trying to establish ourselves on the offensive end with our running," Atlanta coach Fred Williams said. "We had 14 steals and some of that created offensive transition." A 3-pointer by rookie guard Alex Bentley gave Atlanta a 35-22 advantage in the second quarter, the Dream's big lead of the first half. Atlanta led 44-33 at halftime.

The Liberty's Kamiko Williams, who had nine points, hit back-to-back jumpers, including a 3-pointer, to cut the lead to 45-40.

The Dream had a strong answer. McCoughtry sank two free throws to start a 14-2 run, capped by 12 straight points, as the Dream pushed the lead to 59-42. Lyttle hit three jumpers in the run.

"It was just a great team effort," McCoughtry said. "Everybody was getting steals, playing good defense.

"I make an effort to pass the ball every night. It was just fortunate that everybody was hitting the shots. It's a compliment to my teammates for their scoring." The teams will play again on Sunday in New York.

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Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a front-row seat. Other celebrities in the crowd included former NBA star Dikembe Mutombo and Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia.

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